Promotion of IT Industry in Bihar

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Shailendra P Sinha
Chairman, Bihar State Council,
Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)
Bihar Hotels Ltd

In many other states in the country, IT Industry seems to be doing quite well, but Bihar is unable to attract investments in IT. What is your opinion of the IT Industry in Bihar?
I have been involved in several endeavours to promote IT business in Bihar for more than a decade. First attempt was made when we created a platform through promotion of a chapter of TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) in 2002. Thereafter series of events on promotion were held, in which many people, from various spheres of the industry, including several NRIs, participated. Most pledged their support to the cause of Bihar. The unanimous view was that ‘We will do something in the state.’ Many educated youngsters have to go outside the state for finding jobs; our idea was to bring them back to the state. The problem was that the administrative machinery in Bihar could not match the expectations of investors, and we were unable to make much headway in getting investment in the IT sector. You have a feeling that you are on verge of achieving something good for growth of the industry in the state, when suddenly the situation changes and we have to go back to the drawing board. The biggest problem was the negative perception that the State generated in the mind of potential investors. The situation now has changed for the better, and the State now needs to showcase it’s potential in the IT sector, backed to with aggressive marketing.

Don’t you think that the level of infrastructure that exists in Bihar today is also a cause of problem? How can IT industry flourish when we don’t have proper IT parks, roads, hospitals, etc., in the State?
Things are improving at a rapid pace. Today the condition of roads in the State is much better. I remember clearly, when Nitish Kumar became the Chief Minister, he used to say – “How could we invite industry to Bihar when there is no proper infrastructure?” As there were no proper lands, roads, education institutes, he had to start from scratch and build the system ‘brick by brick’. We were lacking in the implementation part, which I think is delaying the creation of the right eco-system. A more focused approach would, with active involvement of the stakeholders’ of the IT sector- both within the State and from other parts of the world, in my view, will lead to better outcome.

“Today Bihar stands at the threshold of takeoff in the area of Information Technology”

In your opinion what kind of IT companies can set up their bases in Bihar?
We need to move step by step. First step should be to bring at least one IT major company, like, Infosys, Wipro, Tech Mahindra, etc., to the state. Such companies may have to be provided adequate land around Patna. But this can only be done is the decision making is being done at the highest level. The Chief Minister and Minister would need to speak to the top IT companies and persuade them to set up shop in the State.

You are part of a Core Committee for the development of IT industry in Bihar. Please tell us about it.
The Core Committee was formed in August 2013. The Core Committee, during their three days visit (from 20th to 22nd August 2013) to Bangalore, met a large number of people ranging from top executive of IT firms, Office bearers of different IT associations and senior officials of academic institutions. The Core Committee briefed the salient features of IT policy of Bihar and the present scenario of the IT industry in Bihar. We briefed a select group of industrialists about the potential that Bihar offered in the area of IT. Cost to set up a development centre and it’s operations in the State is much lower compared to major cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad or Mumbai. However, the really large investments can’t come in until we have the eco-system in place. The Core Committee has also recommended that the State Government should focus on creating world-class software IT Parks and IT Towers. The Chief Minister, I understand has already given his principal approval for these plans.

A major chunk of the youth of the State is working in other States. Do you think that it is possible to encourage them to come back to their own home State?
It is true that bulk of our talented youths are actually working outside Bihar, as they don’t find work environment conducive here. It is not easy to attract those people in the state unless we are able to create supporting infrastructure. You see, an IT Tower or IT Hub or IT park cannot exist in isolation. We also need to have good schools, colleges, townships, recreational centres. An entire ecosystem for enabling an IT professional to have a good quality of life must be created. Highest priority should be given to developing new urban centres and social structure. The truth is that the social structure in Patna and other towns of Bihar is weaker that what you have in most other states. But land around Patna is a scare commodity? How will the land be provided to IT companies? What these IT companies will want is, at reasonable rates. The investment for setting up an IT facility is so huge that no company can afford to pay too much for land. The problem is that in and around Patna we have had lot of unplanned development. The city seems so crowded. Perhaps some satellite townships can be created, but for that to happen the decision making will have to be done at topmost levels. There is also the problem of creating proper social infrastructure. But one advantage that the IT companies will have in Bihar is that here people do not tend to change jobs frequently. So the people who gain employment in any company are likely to stay with the company for at least 2-3 years.

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